• Kyodo


A high court Thursday sentenced a 41-year-old man to 15 years in prison for a robbery-murder carried out in 2004, reducing the life sentence given to him last year by a lower court in a lay judge trial.

The Sendai High Court granted the reduced sentence to Hiroyoshi Koyano after the Sendai District Court initially sentenced him to 15 years and then to life after the high court ordered the sentence to be re-examined by a newly picked group of different citizen judges.

It was the first time since the lay judge trial system was introduced in 2009 that a sentence passed in a lay judge trial was sent back to a district court.

Koyano was found guilty of conspiring with others to abduct 30-year-old Eiji Ishigaki, who was involved in the sex trade, in order to kill him in a forest near Sendai and rob him of around ¥50 million in September 2004. The victim’s body was never found.

The high court’s presiding judge, Yasuhiro Kuga, said in reducing the sentence that as Koyano was not involved in the actual murder, his role in the crime was less serious than his accomplices, adding Koyano had demonstrated his remorse by paying compensation to the victim’s family.

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